TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘Brain Injury Radio Network’

SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Faces of Brain Injury . . . . . . . . Shelley Taylor and her daughter, Taylor Trammell (survivors)

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury

Shelley Taylor and her daughter, Taylor Trammell (survivors)

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

bigstock-cartoon-face-vector-people-25671746-e1348136261718It can happen to anyone, anytime, . . . and anywhere.

The Brain Trauma Foundation states that there are 5.3 million people in the United States living with some form of brain injury.

On “Faces of Brain Injury,” you will meet survivors living with brain injury. I hope that their stories will help you to understand the serious implications and complications of brain injury.

The stories on SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury are published with the permission of the survivor or designated caregiver.

If you would like your story to be published, please send a short account and two photos to me at neelyf@aol.com. I’d love to publish your story and raise awareness for Brain Injury.

Shelley Taylor and her daughter, Taylor Trammell (survivors)

Taylor, Shelley survivorValentine’s Day 2010 would turn into a complete game-changer – a day we will never forget. It’s a day I’ve documented so, if the day comes when my memory is gone, I can always reflect back on God’s goodness and mercy. Following is my account of the night we were poisoned. God provided the most beautiful second chance.

We were experiencing a “Texas Winter” and had received about six inches of snow. We had been without power for three days. On day 3, we ran a generator in the driveway, near our garage. The garage door and windows were open. The Fire Chief later told us that, since it was so cold and there was no wind, the carbon monoxide gas probably just settled. Instead of blowing away, it just crept back into the house via the eaves.

Trammell, Taylor Survivor 050617

Taylor Trammell – Brain Injury Survivor

Taylor (my daughter; 13 at the time) and I had gone to bed. She told us that someone had called her name and she was trying to get up to see who it was. She got up, fell face-first into the wall, collapsed and crawled out of her bedroom, shimmied up the wall, and collapsed again. The thud of Taylor falling on the concrete floor is what woke me up. Charlie (her dad and my ex-husband) heard this as well from the living room. We went to the hallway and found Taylor passed out and lying on her face. We couldn’t get her to respond! Charlie sent me for the flashlight that was by my bed. On my way, I felt like I was not right either. I got the flashlight and ran back to the hall so I could get to Charlie to let him know I wasn’t OK. I knew that if I collapsed in the bedroom, he wouldn’t know to come for me.

Everything was spinning out of control, and I was experiencing the worst feelings I had ever had! When I turned the corner to the hallway, I collapsed face-first (without using my hands or arms to brace myself). I fell onto the metal flashlight and severely cut my forehead. I told Charlie I felt blood running down my face. He looked at me with the flashlight and said he had to get me to the hospital! My head began to pulse blood. Taylor, I, and the walls were covered in blood. Meanwhile, Taylor was in and out of consciousness. I was having convulsions and banging my face into the concrete floor. Charlie then called 9-1-1.

First to respond were the police. Charlie told them we had no power, so they used their flashlights. They immediately saw my blood and the bloody handprints in our hallway, and Charlie had my blood on him as well. Immediately they accused Charlie of a crime. Shortly thereafter, the fire department arrived, and luckily Charlie knew one of the firefighters who quickly came to Charlie’s defense. Charlie told the Fire Chief of the generator, and immediately the Chief went to the truck to get the carbon monoxide detector. Even at the entrance to our driveway, the readings on the detector began to rise quickly. The readings went higher as he got closer to the house. Upon reaching the door, he called for his crew to exit the house and got Charlie, Taylor, and our dogs out as well. Paramedics were left inside with me to get me stable enough for transport to the hospital. Eventually I left by ambulance, and Charlie and Taylor left in Charlie’s truck.ambulance6

At Mansfield Methodist Hospital, Taylor’s and my blood gases were checked. They were found to be “through the roof.” We were then transported to Dallas Methodist to use their hyperbaric chamber. First, my head injury was closed up with fifteen stitches, and I had to have a CT (computerized tomography) scan to make sure I was transportable. Off we went in the ambulance. Upon arriving at Dallas Methodist, a doctor explained the procedures for going into the hyperbaric chamber. (I was trying to comprehend all of this while the carbon monoxide was still doing damage to my brain!) We found out that the family that had just been in the chamber before us had all died, except the father – not comforting!

When we came home, my sister Kimberley moved in for approximately a month. Physically, my head was healing, but, mentally, I was left with a traumatic brain injury. I literally started over with kindergarten flashcards (I would look at an apple and say “library”), and my friends and family completed most of my sentences. My neurologist was a great comfort to me as I struggled with memory and cognitive skills.

My neurologist also told me that people don’t survive what we went through. He said they really don’t know how to treat me. He said carbon monoxide goes into your brain and destroys whatever it attaches to, and we have no control over what functions are affected.CO-Danger

Taylor and I struggle daily, but some recovery continues every day for both of us. Taylor is young, and healing has come differently for her. Memory and migraines are big battles she continues to face.

I’ve come a long way, but I continue to deal with balance, breathing, vision, and memory. It seems I have fallen more times than I’ve stood. By far, my greatest challenge is breathing. Every day, at some point I struggle to breathe. Coughing has become my norm.

Memory LossMy memory is horrible at times, and I’ve lost so many precious memories. Taylor and I have a routine when it comes to trying to remember things. We just look at each other and ask, “Did we have fun?” The one who remembers says to the other, “Yes, we had fun!” That’s all that matters.

What a Valentine’s Day! Taylor saved us by miraculously waking. We endured my bloody head injury which required fifteen stitches, a concussion, a CT scan, blood gas analyses, ambulance rides, and approximately three-hour “dives” in a hyperbaric chamber. (And, we’re both very claustrophobic!) Nothing says “I love you” like a brain injury.

To be alive is amazing, in whatever capacity! God is good – no, great!

 

Thank you, Shelley Taylor and Taylor Trammell, for sharing your story.

Surviving Brain Injury - Stories of Strength & InspirationNOTE 1:

Taylor Trammell and her mother, Shelley Taylor, are contributing authors in “Surviving Brain Injury: Stories of Strength & Inspiration,” edited by Amy Zellmer. Shelley and Taylor’s story is titled, “Our Story of Poisoning — and of Grace.” It can be found in Chapter 75 on page 299.

NOTE 2:

My story, “Nightmare in the Disability Lane,” can be found in Chapter 29 on page 114 of the same book, “Surviving Brain Injury: Stories of Strength & Inspiration,” edited by Amy Zellmer.

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(Photos compliments of contributor.)

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Taylor Trammell

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Taylor Trammell

presented 

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Taylor Trammell – Brain Injury Survivor

1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Taylor Trammell

2. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email (optional)

Grand Prairie, Texas, USA     taylor.dot24@gmail.com

3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?

I had my brain injury on February 14th, 2010, at age 13.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

Carbon monoxide poisoning

(Donna’s note: The story of the poisoning of Taylor and her mother, Shelley Taylor, will be published later on this blog under “Faces of Brain Injury.”)

5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?

The problem was apparent the night we were poisoned.

6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?

I was put into a hyperbaric chamber.

7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?

No

8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient or outpatient and occupational and/or physical and/or speech and/or other)? How long were you in rehab?

No

9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury
(e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?

Afterward, I started to sleep poorly or not to sleep any at night. I also suffer from horrible migraines. Sometimes, when I hold on to something, I just drop it. But overall, it’s a mystery because every day could be something different.

10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?

Now I have sleeping problems, and I get horrible migraines. But, I can’t really say if my life is better or worse. I mean, it’s not fun on some days, but at least I have a life to live.

11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?

I miss being able to go to a concert or an event and not having to turn away from the stage or to have my boyfriend hold my head in his chest to block the light. I miss being able to talk normally and not forget what I was saying. Most of all, I miss not being able to sleep.

12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?

I enjoy just living in general. I mean that because it was such a close call to be living. God saved me, so I will live my life to the fullest and not let my TBI (traumatic brain injury) hold me back.

13. What do you like least about your brain injury?

Not sleeping and my migraines

14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?

Yes. I’ve been helped by knowing that God saved me and that He is always right beside me.

15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?

I’m not sure. Sometimes it’s hard for people to understand my migraines or that I’m grumpy from not sleeping.

16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?

Yes, it has. I realize that life is short, so I try to do everything I want to do. I have fun. I love music and going to concerts, but that has changed due to the lights.

17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?

N/A

18. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

I am graduating in a few weeks with my degree in ASL (American Sign Language) Interpreting. I plan to become an interpreter and to be married next year and start our lives.

19. Are you able to provide a helpful hint that may have taken you a long time to learn, but which you wished you had known earlier? If so, please state what it is to potentially help other survivors with your specific kind of brain injury.

No matter what has become the new you, you have to remember that there is a you because God saved you. I had to accept who the new me was and just roll with it. I mean, there wouldn’t be a you if you were not saved. SO, accept it, and learn what you need to do to live your life every day.

Taylor Trammell – Brain Injury Survivor

20. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

Just remember to be thankful, even in the hardest times. Life isn’t easy, and it never will be. Be strong and be supportive to everyone because you never know what the other person is going through. I know a lot of people in my life who have no idea what I go through every day, so just be strong and remember God is with you.

 

 

Surviving Brain Injury - Stories of Strength & Inspiration

Surviving Brain Injury: Stories of Strength and Inspiration

NOTE 1:

Taylor Trammell and her mother, Shelley Taylor, are contributing authors in “Surviving Brain Injury: Stories of Strength & Inspiration,” edited by Amy Zellmer. Shelley and Taylor’s story is titled, “Our Story of Poisoning — and of Grace.” It can be found in Chapter 75 on page 299.

NOTE 2:

My story, “Nightmare in the Disability Lane,” can be found in Chapter 29 on page 114 of the same book, “Surviving Brain Injury: Stories of Strength & Inspiration,” edited by Amy Zellmer.

 

If you would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please go to TBI SPEAK OUT! Survivors Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Shelley Taylor

Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Shelley Taylor

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

 

Taylor, Shelley Survivor 3 050417

Shelley Taylor – Brain Injury Survivor

 

 

1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Shelley Taylor

2. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email (optional)

Grand Prairie, Texas, USA     shelley@shelleytaylor.net

3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?

I had my brain injury on Valentine’s Day seven years ago. I was 45 years old.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

Both I and my daughter, Taylor, were poisoned one night by carbon monoxide gas coming from an outside generator. We were fortunate to awaken and survive. Both of us have a brain injury as a result. (Donna’s note: Their horrific story will be published later on this blog under “Faces of Brain Injury.”)

5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?

The likelihood of carbon monoxide poisoning was first evident to the Fire Chief when the detector showed very high levels of carbon monoxide near the house. I was treated for carbon monoxide poisoning at Methodist Dallas Medical Center. Eventually it was discovered that I have a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?

I was taken to the Emergency Room at Methodist Hospital in Mansfield. I had stitches for a head wound (see story), and I was given a CT (computerized tomography) scan. A hyperbaric chamber at Methodist Dallas Medical Center was used to treat me for carbon monoxide poisoning.

7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?

No

8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient or outpatient and occupational and/or physical and/or speech and/or other)? How long were you in rehab?

Yes. I had occupational therapy.

9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury
(e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?

I have a problem breathing. I also have problems with balance, depth perception, and memory. I am plagued with migraines, vertigo, and light-sensitivity.

10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?

My daily life has changed, with issues in breathing, balance, light-sensitivity, depth perception, noise-sensitivity, and memory. Now I also have daily headaches. (I got a migraine on February 4th, and I have not gone a day pain-free.) Life is just different. I am who I am for a reason. I’m living God’s plan for me.

11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?

I miss being able to remember, wearing high heels, and pain-free days.

12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?

Taylor, Shelley survivor

Shelley Taylor – Brain Injury Survivor

I try to live every day with a positive attitude. My daughter and I live with gratitude. We are very thankful that God saved us.

13. What do you like least about your brain injury?

I dislike coughing, falling, the light-sensitivity, the noise-sensitivity, and the memory issues. Many doctors don’t have experience with our type of injury. It’s frustrating.

14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?

Yes. My relationship with Christ.

15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?

I think my family offers me an abundant amount of grace on days when my head is killing me and I’m extremely nauseous. They know I need to rest my brain a lot in the calm and quiet.

16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?

Yes. I was an extrovert pre brain injury. Post brain injury, I’ve become an introvert. I love calm and quiet now.

17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?

N\A

18. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

I just finished writing a book, “With My Last Breath, I’d Say I Love You” – when your faith and hope slip, grace wins every time. I hope to find a publisher soon. Also, I’d love to speak and encourage others. book

19. Are you able to provide a helpful hint that may have taken you a long time to learn, but which you wished you had known earlier? If so, please state what it is to potentially help other survivors with your specific kind of brain injury.

Early on, realize that you are here for a reason and make the most of each day. Our struggles are what make us stronger. Reach out to others and ask for help when necessary. Love yourself for who you are, not for what you aren’t.

20. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

See my comments in the preceding question.

NOTE 1:

Surviving Brain Injury - Stories of Strength & Inspiration

“Surviving Brain Injury: Stories of Strength & Inspiration”

Shelley Taylor and her daughter, Taylor Trammell, are contributing authors in “Surviving Brain Injury: Stories of Strength & Inspiration,” edited by Amy Zellmer. Shelley and Taylor’s story is titled, “Our Story of Poisoning — and of Grace.” It can be found in Chapter 75 on page 299.

NOTE 2:

My story, “Nightmare in the Disability Lane,” can be found in Chapter 29 on page 114 of the same book, “Surviving Brain Injury: Stories of Strength & Inspiration,” edited by Amy Zellmer.

 

 

If you would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please go to TBI SPEAK OUT! Survivors Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

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TBI Tales: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I Tripped & Stumbled, but Did Not Fall by Donna O’Donnell Figurski

I Tripped & Stumbled, but Did Not Fall

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Recently, as I got out of my car, I stumbled on the curb. Somehow in the darkness, I did not see it. Though the event took less than a second, one thought ran through my head. It was not, “Oh, no! I am going to break a bone or scrape my knee.” It was not, “What a klutz! I’ll ruin my clothes.” And it was not about how embarrassed I would be. All of those possibilities probably would have been my first thoughts – before brain injury entered my life when my husband had a traumatic brain injury in 2005.

Now my mind is only a thought away from brain injury. So, as I tripped and stumbled, but did not fall, my mind raced to, “Please don’t let me hit my head.” I didn’t care how silly I looked or about my clothes being ripped or about getting any broken bones (they would heal). I worried about getting a brain injury. I worried about how a brain injury could change my life forever. I worried that if I were hurt, I could not sufficiently care for my husband, who needs my daily attention. Yes, those thoughts did race through my head in that fleeting second.

It only takes a second for a brain injury to occur. Most brain injuries occur because of an accident. Though we may be aware of the possibility of accidents, they cannot all be avoided. Fortunately, my accident was avoided – just barely. I can only hope that my potential accidents will be few and far apart in the future. I hope yours will be too.

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

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SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps!

SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty Giant Steps

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Itty-Bitty GIant Steps for BlogSPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty Giant Steps will provide a venue for brain-injury survivors and caregivers to shout out their accomplishments of the week.

If you have an Itty-Bitty Giant Step and you would like to share it, just send an email to me at neelyf@aol.com.

If you are on Facebook, you can simply send a Private Message to me. It need only be a sentence or two. I’ll gather the accomplishments and post them with your name on my blog approximately once a week. (If you do not want your last name to be posted, please tell me in your email or Private Message.)

I hope we have millions of Itty-Bitty Giant Steps.

Donna-David-1 copy

David Figurski – Brain Injury Survivor & Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Trash

Donna O’Donnell Figurski (caregiver)I came home from Drama Club ready to take the garbage out.  I was shocked to find that it had already been taken out.  David had done it!  First time since his TBI (traumatic brain injury) twelve years ago! YAY! Can you see my happy dance?Happy Dance

David Grant

David A. Grant – Brain Injury Survivor

David Grant (survivor) It was around two years ago this month that my ability to read returned. Last night, I again fell asleep with a book in my hands. Sure,Mann Reading in Bed my pace is a bit slower, but I’m doing it. Just passed the 300-page mark in an awesome book. (Thanks again, Nick!) I marvel at the fact that I can actually remember a long and complicated plot line, something I was incapable of for years after my accident. How can I not be profoundly grateful?

Note: David is the editor for the e-zine, “TBI Hope & Inspiration.” He is also the author of several books about brain injury. “Metamorphosis, Surviving Brain Injury” and “Slices of Life after Brain Injury

Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis, Surviving Brain Injury

Slices of Life

Slices of Life after Brain Injury

YOU did it!

Congratulations to contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributors.)

As I say after each post:anim0014-1_e0-1

Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

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TBI Tales: Inspiration . . . . . . . . by Bonni Villarreal (caregiver)

Inspiration

by

Bonni Villarreal (caregiver)

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Bonni Villarreal – Caregiver

March 21, 2012, is a day that changed my life forever. It started off like any average day. I got up and went to work. Mike was asleep when I left. I called him around 8:30 that morning to let him know I wouldn’t be at my desk, in case he tried to call me. He sounded fine. Then, just by chance, I happened to be at my desk at 10 am when my phone rang. It was Mike … telling me he was having a stroke.

By the time I got to the house, the ambulance was there. Mike was awake and reaching for me. I didn’t think it was too serious because Mike was alert and talking. But, by the time we got to the hospital, that had changed. The doctor informed me that Mike had a huge blood clot near his cerebellum, and he had to be life-flighted to another hospital because he was too critical to stay at the one he was at.


I had to sign papers for life-saving brain surgery. Mike was in a coma for ten days. We didn’t know if he would wake up, and, if he did, what condition he would be in. When he “woke up,” Mike wasn’t anything like the man I married. He stayed in the hospital for another month, and then he was transferred to a nursing home.

Those days were some of the darkest in my life. They treated Mike as if he were a hopeless case. I wonder what would’ve happened to him if I hadn’t been around.

Mike Villarreal – TBI Survivor

He was tube-fed, couldn’t speak (he wrote instead), and couldn’t walk. He was totally helpless. Plus, he was battling infection after infection. I didn’t think things would ever return to normal.

Fast forward to January 2017 – almost five years post stroke. Mike passed his barium swallow test, and he is having his G-tube removed! He is walking almost unassisted! He is talking! I told Mike, “You are an inspiration. You give hope to people who have lost it, you have renewed hope for people who are about to give up, and you keep hope alive for people who are just starting this long journey.”

Mike wants everyone to know – DON’T EVER, EVER, EVER GIVE UP. No matter if it’s been five, ten, or fifteen years. Keep hope alive! Mike did, and look how far he has come!

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

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TBI Tales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Twelve Years, But Who’s Counting?

Twelve Years, But Who’s Counting?

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

1242232191169820850212_white,_green_rounded_rectangle.svg.med.pngTwelve years! Twelve years ago today, I came as close as a breath to losing my husband and best friend, David. While exercising (a thing he did every day to stay in shape), David did thirteen chin-ups, one more than he had done every other day. That was the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back,” or in David’s case, the “chin-up that caused his subarachnoid hemorrhage.” That day, as I rode with him in the ambulance to the hospital, I never realized what lay ahead for us. I never dreamed that this blip would be life-altering. I thought we’d be home by the end of the day, carrying on with life as usual. I was wrong!

david-jareds-wedding-060513

David H. Figurski, Ph.D. – Brain Injury Survivor

David remained in the hospital in the Neuro-Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and the step-down unit at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital (now New York Presbyterian Hospital) for three weeks. While he was there, he was treated to two more brain surgeries – one for an aneurysm and the other for an arterial venous malformation (AVM). He then became a guest at a local rehab hospital for another two months, until insurance wrongly said he was fine to go home.th-1

I am grateful that David is still with me. He wasn’t expected to be. Each surgeon gave me little hope that he would survive any of his surgeries. I’m glad that David proved them all wrong. I’m glad that we have had twelve more years together, and I hope to spend many more with this man whom I have loved since I was sixteen years old.

animated-book

Hopefully, in the sometime future, you will be able to read David’s whole story in my book-in-manuscript, titled “Prisoners Without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale.”

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

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